Faculty members at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, have voted by a large majority that the school should annul the honorary degree awarded Donald Trump in 1988.
Almost 83 percent of faculty members who participated in this week’s ballot approved the motion calling on the school’s board of trustees to rescind Trump’s degree, reports Lehigh Valley Live. The motion says Trump is unworthy of the honor “based on a long history of numerous documented statements that are antithetical to our core values and beneath the standard for Lehigh’s honorary degrees holders.”
A preamble to the motion declared that “statements made by President Trump do not meet Lehigh’s standards for respectful discourse where differences of opinion exist.”
“If a member of Lehigh’s on-campus community made one of these statements, he/she would be subject to disciplinary action; taken in their entirety, he/she would be at risk of dismissal,” the motion said.
“By staying silent we are bystanders; we normalize hate speech, condone discrimination and bullying; we enable people in positions of power to corrode the foundations of civil society; and we abdicate our commitment and responsibility to uphold and sustain our core values,” it added.
The Lehigh faculty motion cited as a precedent the university’s revocation of Bill Cosby’s honorary degree in 2015 for “behavior inconsistent with the character and high standards expected of honorees.” Cosby faces dozens of sexual assault allegations.
“The faculty spoke, and I think spoke rather strongly, in terms of the number of faculty participating and the overwhelming support of the motion as written,” Doug Mahoney, the chair of the faculty’s steering committee, told the student newspaper The Brown And White.
The university’s student government body also moved to support the motion.
The final decision on whether Trump’s degree will be revoked will come from the board of trustees, which in October 2017 voted to take “no action” on a Change.org petition that called on it to take back the honor.
The petition, which garnered more than 31,000 signatures, said Trump’s “rejection of diversity and his lack of respect for the differences of others around him stands in direct opposition to the principles” of the school.
“He does not reflect Lehigh University’s values,” it added. “Therefore, he does not deserve to bear the distinction of an honorary degree from Lehigh.”